We stayed at Thirtyseven Gozo, on the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago, for some serious R&R (rambling and relaxation, that is).
Malta sometimes gets a bad rep as a ‘Brits abroad’ destination (think retirees, not foam parties), but Gozo is different.
It’s clear from the moment you step off the ferry: the yellow-brick houses are grand but overgrown and forgotten – many appear uninhabited altogether. The landscape is rocky, with fennel plants sprouting up through any available holes. It gives the island a wonderful, peppery smell.
Gozo is an altogether underrated destination; it doesn’t lack any of the sun, sea or beaches that Malta has, and it benefits from a much more relaxed pace by virtue of there being fewer tourists.
As Malta’s wild sister, it’s also a must-visit for hikers, walkers and ramblers. What I loved about Gozo is that it’s littered with ruins: some ancient, some just abandoned buildings, but altogether it gives the island a slightly haunting, desolate vibe.
We fit in three big walks during our stay – from Xlendi to Mgarr harbour along the coast, a trip to Comino island, and a rather convoluted walk from Ramla Bay to Marsalforn (click the links for more detail, including the routes) – and there was plenty more we could have done. One thing I regret is not finding time to kayak around the tiny islands and explore the caves carved into the cliffs. Next time!
Where to stay
Just because it’s a hiking holiday it doesn’t mean you can’t add a bit of luxury, so we chose Thirtyseven Gozo as our post-hiking retreat.
It’s a gorgeous boutique hotel that Brad and Angelina (back in the day, of course) hired out when they were filming By The Sea. Patti, Thirtyseven Gozo’s owner, told me they rented the whole place when they visited, letting their children run wild around the complex.
They would have had a great time: the hotel’s gardens are lush, filled with succulents, cacti and other plants, as well as two swimming pools. We stayed in the ‘Palm’ room, a lovely suite with its own private garden.
The service is top-notch, as you’d expect, and the hotel has everything you need to recover between walks: Korres toiletries in the bathrooms, poolside loungers, and a generous breakfast buffet that’ll get you prepped for each day. We booked in for a full-body massage too, to get all the aches and pains out after a big walk. It was heavenly.
We stayed in the Palm Room at €200 per night, thirtysevengozo.com
The journey from the UK is long but worth it. We flew from Gatwick, landing in Malta’s international airport, which is on the other side of the island from the ferry port, before finally arriving at Mgarr Harbour in Gozo.